Augusta leaders hope James Brown's name will save Civic Center

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August 23, 2006

Leaders in Augusta hope an aging building and one of the area's best-known celebrities will strike the perfect chord with audiences...but can James Brown's name save Augusta's Civic Center? And will the name change ever get off the drawing board?

Just about everything has been done to attract more business the Civic Center.

So what could changing the name mean for the building?

People News 12 talked with say when the Augusta Civic Center first came it was alive, but over time it died. Now they are hoping a new name--the James Brown Arena--will help bring it back to live.

He has his own street, own statue, and now his own arena.

Mary Warren says James Brown's name alone will draw business to the Civic Center.

"People will want to be in the place just to be in the place," she says.

Over the years the Civic Center has struggled to bring in big-name concerts and conventions.

"All of a sudden it just died," Warren says. "It just died."

Stacey Sistrunk is visiting from New York. She says a name can mean everything.

"I think it may attract more people, more tourists," she says.

Joseph Butler, also visiting from New York, says the entertainer deserves the honor.

"From what I understand, he came a long way, he paid his dues."

And while nothing else seems to have worked recently to resuscitate the Civic Center, trying a name may just bring fame.

"There's nothing wrong with trying to make it come back again, and maybe the name James Brown will do that," Warren says.

A legality study is currently being done to make sure the name can be changed. The results of that study should be complete in a couple of days.

The city of Augusta has argued in the past how best to honor the Godfather of Soul.

9th Street was named James Brown Boulevard.

But leaders argued over the James Brown statue, which was finally put on Broad Street last May, then removed for a while so a pedestal could be added.

Just last month, the Convention and Visitor's Bureau unveiled a brochure marking James Brown landmarks and some of his favorite spots around town.